Start the new year with Steamboat library’s community sand painting |

Start the new year with Steamboat library’s community sand painting

The sand and tools used to create a mandala sand painting with the Bud Werner Memorial Library’s annual community sand painting. (File photo by Scott Franz).

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — A sand mandala is much more than the colors and intricate designs seen on the surface.

The art form, designed to heal an environment and the people in it, is rooted in ancient techniques.

“It’s a beautiful expression of our community’s artistry and cooperation every time we fill the colorful slate and wipe it clean,” said Jennie Lay, Bud Werner Memorial Library adult programs coordinator. “It’s never the same twice.”

To start off the new year, the library is bringing back the community sand painting event, which is open to all ages, from noon to 5 p.m. Friday in Library Hall.

If you go

What: Community sand painting
When: Noon to 5 p.m. Friday, Jan. 4
Where: Library Hall at Bud Werner Memorial Library, 1289 Lincoln Ave.

Inspired by the Drepung Loseling monks’ Mandala on the Yampa art installations at the library, the Steamboat Springs community has participated in creating many hands-on public sand paintings.

The design this year comes from the bestselling “inky adventure” adult coloring book “Lost Ocean” by Johanna Basford.

Lay said there’s a mindfulness and meditation component to working on a mandala like this.

“You have to focus to get the sand to fall where you want it,” Lay said. “You need to breathe to have control of the chakpur. You need to be present and thoughtful as you decide what color sand to put down.”

A chakpur is a metal funnel with a grated surface, along which the artist runs a metal rod. The vibration causes sand to flow like liquid onto the platform. The result is a colorful design, then wiped away in the spirit of impermanence upon completion.

Materials involved in making the community mandala include chakpurs and 13 different colors of sand, which will be available for everyone to try this ancient Tibetan art form.

The sand that will be used is a mixture of all the sand colors that were used to create past sand paintings.

When the Drepung Loseling monks visited Steamboat Springs, they spent five days creating a single sand mandala.

With as many as four artists working on the mandala at a time, hundreds of people from the community can participate in the sand painting.

“I always wish more adults would brave the creative divide and jump in to sand paint with the many kids who come year after year because they love it so much,” Lay said.

“It’s an artistic meditation,” Lay said. “Who couldn’t us a little more of that in their life?”


To reach Audrey Dwyer, call 970-871-4229, email or follow her on Twitter @Audrey_Dwyer1

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